Lights, Camera… Kill! is a remarkably good, no-budget horror movie about a mysteriously motivated killer who is himself an amateur filmmaker. When a pair of teenage petty thieves stumbles across the killer’s murderous home movies, they become implicated in the crimes and begin to fear for their own safety. By the end of the movie, the audience is cleverly drawn into the drama in an unnerving manner. While not without precedent - there are resonances with The Ring and Videodrome - the theme is re-worked creatively and in a manner appropriate for the medium. A number of moments in this movie are genuinely creepy.
Just as the killer of the movie uses a digital camera to record his gory murders, director "Insane Mike" Saunders of Prescribed Films has made Lights, Camera… Kill! in a similar manner. The cost-effectiveness of digital technology makes this and other movies like it possible, as it empowers a whole generation of would-be filmmakers with the means to try out their ideas in a real and tangible way. This movie demonstrates how far a group of young filmmakers has come entirely on their own, so far outside of the Hollywood scene that it might as well be on another planet - or Ottumwa, Iowa, as the case may be. Of course, this means that the movie isn’t without some flaws, but its shortcomings only serve to emphasize how much this group of people is making movies simply for the love of movies - horror movies, in particular. This kind of guerrilla film making is exciting, in part, because you can see a group of people learning how to make films right in front of you, by trial and error.
That being said, there are many great things about this movie. It features a lot of creative camera work, very smooth editing (especially for such low budget project), and excellent music compiled, composed and performed by assistant director Jason Bolinger. And of course, as a horror film, there is a premium placed on special effects. The level of gore is tasteful, without distracting from the story, and they achieve a squirm factor higher than most amateur productions. The knife through the chest shot (featured as a still in a recent issue of Fangoria Magazine) is accomplished and impressive, and there is also a very creative use of re-bar (concrete reinforcement bar, that is) toward the climax of the film, a scene that sticks with me yet.
The snobbish and the squeamish might not lose sleep over missing this film, but people who love horror movies and movie making should recognize latent talent when they see it.
About Lights, Camera... Kill! (2004)
Starring: Mandy Weir, Melissa Alexander, Matt Alexander, Steven Tracy, Jason Kingery, Jacob Pollmann, Mike Alexander, Jill Emmert, Chris Alexander, Jeff Alexander, Sarah Davis, Angie Lellig, Chris Simmons, Trevor Swaim, Veronika Luksetich, Bruce Elgin, Jon Van Allen, Kevin Railsback, William Dean Anderson, John Sales
Director: Insane Mike Saunders
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